Apr 1, 2022
Introduction: Alison Maitland
is a writer, speaker, advisor and coach. She is the co-author of
two previous books, Future Work and Why Women mean business. She is
also a co-author of the book we illuminate here on this show called
Indivisible: Radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable
Rebekah Steele is a business strategist,
innovator and speaker with deep expertise in Diversity and
Inclusion. Rebekah spent two decades in the corporate world
including as a senior leader in Fortune 500 Companies. Rebekah
launched her consultancy focussed on the intersection of diversity,
inclusion, and human centred design thinking. Rebekah employs her
signature D&I innovation labs and distinctive ecosystem design
process to support leaders bring progressive strategies to life.
Rebekah is also a speaker, a senior Fellow and Council Director
with the Conference Board.
Podcast Episode Summary
This episode put simply explores the idea of radically
rethinking inclusion for sustainable business results. Alison and
Rebekah make the case that inclusion is a business driver and
offers so much more to organisations who can connect the demands of
stakeholder base as well as in advancing solutions to the many
systemic challenges society faces.
Points made over the episode
- The question how can organisations do better with respect to
Inclusion, motivated Rebekah and Alison to bring their collective
wisdom, their research and knowledge to write their book called
Indivisible: How to radically rethink inclusion for sustainable
- Leaders are not questioning why inclusion matters but they are
frustrated by not knowing how to define Inclusion, how to cultivate
it and how to measure its impact
- Alison and Rebekah developed a whole new approach, an
eco-system approach that they describe in their book to help
leaders address the gap between the promise of inclusion and the
- Radically rethinking inclusion means that organisations need to
be much more ambitious in their approach to building inclusion at
work. The challenges organisations are facing made more pronounced
by virtue of the War in Ukraine, Climate Change, The Pandemic, The
systemic inequities highlighted by Black Lives Matter, have
amplified the need for a much more ambitious approach to
- Where do organisations start? First off organisations must
recognise that Diversity and Inclusion are distinct, are two
different concepts that are complimentary
- Diversity is about the vast mix of different individuals, their
experiences, talents, perspectives and the ways you harness this
collective superpower is through inclusion
- Conventional approaches to inclusion are too narrow to harness
the potential of this collective superpower.
- An expanded view of inclusion is about employing a strategic
eco-system that you could liken to a traffic management system such
as a roundabout to ensure safety outcomes. That system is much more
than how drivers feel or behave but includes road signage, signals,
licensing, penalties and maintenance.
- Many myths prevail about inclusion and some include the idea
that results can be achieved by using piecemeal approaches. Others
include the replication of best practices used by other
organisations that in fact fail. An example of such is implicit
bias awareness training
- Organisation set up inclusion practices as optional if
Inclusion is not indivisibly linked to business outcomes,
profitable growth and business decisions
- Simple solutions to inclusion like asking for a silver bullet
do not work, instead a rigorous and practical eco-system is
- Overcoming conventional approaches is critical especially when
ever widening stakeholders are demanding resolutions to societies
- Unless Leaders can break through ineffective piecemeal
initiatives where inclusion is glossed over and is disconnected
from the heart of the business then organisations will never reap
the benefits inclusion provides as evidenced in the research.
- Businesses are facing huge challenges such as Artificial
Intelligence, Climate Change and now War. To find sustainable
innovative solutions requires more thinking and from a greater pool
- Indivisible talks about 3 P’s – Performance, Preparedness and
Purpose to get at inclusion and an inclusive work environment.
- Organisations can fail to recognise market opportunities as
evidenced by an example of a tech company whose design failed to
consider left handed people and people with smaller extremities,
- A whole approach works. Alison and Rebekah describe their
eco-system model and approach used in organisations.
- Integration looks like people being rewarded for inclusive
behaviour, behaviour that helps fulfil business goals. Employees
are really astute at including alternative perspectives and calling
in others views. It is important to paint a picture of what an
inclusive environment looks like.
- Schiphol airport is an example of an integrated inclusion
eco-system at work described in the book.
- There are many unintended and often invisible systemic biases
at work in organisations, organisations who might ordinarily
consider themselves inclusive. Consider the case of Carla a case
described in the book.
- The book was written for all functions in the organisation and
often it is the case that particular functions, such as
procurement, are delighted to know that they can consider inclusion
in decisions and thinking
- Teams can start by creating a really safe environment to
discuss what might be being excluded on their teams. Important for
teams to be really present so that they can readily start to notice
the ways they are invisible to excluding people, ideas etc.
- Create Psychological Safety through the practice of crafting
team agreements and expectations of each member. Discuss how
inclusion and inclusive practices could achieve the teams purpose
- The 10 enablers of inclusion housed in three clusters;
connection, common cause and opportunity goes down well in
- The team can look across these 10 enablers to see what they are
currently doing well and what gaps could be managed to create a
consistent culture of inclusion
- Practices such as listening without interruption, collaboration equity such as
that provided by a company called Powernoodle and using or
instituting a role for a person to notice barriers to inclusion on
a team are all ways to further the dialogue on inclusion.
- One of the main points of the book is that inclusion is about
everyone and everyone is responsible for making inclusion
- There are many useful resources provided in the book to help
people navigate this important topic. They include; the Inclusive
Eco-System, 50 practical actions stakeholders can take, innovation
metrics and a questionnaire as well as a free guide for Indivisible
readers to create action circles and further their knowledge and
insights on the creation of an inclusive workplace.
Indivisible: Radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable
business results by Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele.